By Nathan Mayberg
MONTICELLO December 9, 2003 A mortgage tax increase for Sullivan County was unanimously approved by the County Legislature on Thursday.
The surcharge will raise mortgage taxes by one-fourth of a percent, according to Richard LaCondre, Commissioner of Financial Management. The legislation now will go to the State Legislature for approval. If approved, LaCondre estimated the revenue from the increase to be between $500,000 and $700,000.
Pictures From the Air
Legislators tabled a resolution to to hire the Pictometry International Corporation for $105,000 per year. The legislature plans on meeting with company officials Thursday, December 11, at 11:30 a.m. to discuss the corporations use of Ortho Photography and whether the county needs this aerial photography tool.
Legislators Bob Kunis, Jodi Goodman, and Kathy LaBuda attempted to kill the bill but were convinced by Greg Goldstein to listen to the presentation the following week.
Dick Robinson, Chief Information Officer in the Management Information Systems Department, said the corporation would do a special fly-over of the county with its own plane and take specialized photos that "give the county a three-dimensional look" of most properties and structures.
The county would get accurate measurements and precise details of these buildings and properties, said Robinson. This would allow the county and town planning departments to help developers with new construction. He said that town and county tax collectors could better access property values, and police, fire and emergency services could have better mapping to respond to urgent matters.
911 Coordinator Dave Kimmel said Ortho Photography has "enormous potential." He added that police can plan raids on specific buildings by knowing each doorway leading in and out of specific buildings.
The Ortho Photography would create a map that all county agencies would share, as opposed to the current system of separate maps. The company would do fly-overs every two years and then construct the maps at a cost of $105,000 per year.
SPCAs Contract Renewed
The Legislature also approved a resolution that renewed a contract with the SPCA for $15,000 a year to catch mostly stray dogs and cats.
Kunis raised concern about recent rumors regarding divisions within the SPCA. LaBuda responded that these concerns were addressed during a meeting with company officials, but she declined to comment on what those issues were. She did say that she heard about horse mistreatment through a newspaper but had not read the article.
Route 17 Exit Addition Nears
In other business, the Public Works Committee approved the implementation and funding in the engineering and right-of way incidental consulting engineering services in the preparation of bid documents for the construction of a new Route 17 Exit 106 (East Monticello) interchange. Committee Chairman Rodney Gaebel said that the county will be completely reimbursed by the state. The new off-ramp will be next to the old Apollo Mall and will create access from eastbound Route 17 to East Broadway.
The committee also approved contracts for underground drainage projects in Kohlertown and Mamakating to prevent ditches from eroding. Money was also approved to fix roads in Bethel and Lake Huntington, including slope stabilization on County Road 94. The funds for these projects will come from highway improvement money, according to Gaebel.
Cutting Legal Fees, Raising Profits
Due to rising lawyer fees, the county legislators agreed to look into hiring a legal aid firm at an annual cost. The county currently pays lawyers for each appearance representing defendants who cannot afford an attorney.
The Financial Management Committee also authorized the county manager to join the Catskill Region Off-Track Betting Corporation OTB. OTBs could then be instituted in Sullivan County, with an estimated profit of $300,000 to $500,000 a year, said LaCondre.